1700 Webster, Oakland Rendering

Three blocks away from the 345-unit development at 1900 Broadway which was approved by Oakland’s Planning Commission on Wednesday, Gerding Edlen is pushing forward with plans for a 250-foot tower with 206 apartments to rise at 1700 Webster Street.

As designed by Perkins+Will, the 206 units would be spread across the top 18 floors of the 24-level tower, with a 3,300-square-foot roof deck above a penthouse floor with a 15-foot canopy.

A four story podium would conceal parking for 206 cars and 70 bikes and provide a platform for a sixth-floor roof deck.

1700 Webster Podium

The ground floor of the building would front both Webster and 17th Streets, with the building’s lobby off 17th Street and 6,000 square feet of retail space primarily fronting onto 17th, but also wrapping around the corner to provide a retail frontage along Webster as well.

Qualifying for a CEQA exemption as an infill project and consistent with Oakland’s Central Business District General Plan and all zoning, the tower could be fully approved within the next couple of months and the development team is planning to break ground by the end of the year, with occupancy slated for the second half of 2017.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Dave

    Like the design. Talk about expedited – not approved yet but expected to be with construction starting before EOY.

    If the Gang tower does not go through in SF I hope they build it in Oakland. A great design that would be an architectural gem for the Bay Area.

  2. Posted by anon

    Parking podium? Where are we, Houston?

    • Posted by Kyle

      At least it has ground floor retail and not ground floor parking garage.

    • Posted by Orland

      I’m currently in Chicago and there is a very high end condo complex under construction on Gold Coast ‘ s State St. Plush, glassy tower rising from a 5-story concrete, monolithic podium!

      I could not believe such a thing could get approved in this city which so rightfully prides itself on it’s architecture. I wonder if Lucas’ folly will actually get built.

      • Posted by AnonArch

        @Orland, the reason there is a “podium” for that new building on State Street is one of Chicago’s subway lines runs adjacent and slightly underneath the structure. The base also contains some of the building mechanical equipment as well. Also, you do realize that many tall towers in Chicago have parking within them above the first two or three ground floors of retail? The iconic Hancock Tower has a huge pedestrian plaza with 3 floors total of retail, but hidden directly above inside the tower is over 10 floors of parking before the occupied space begins. The parking floors are hidden by the type of glass that is used on the exterior. One can have parking without ruining street life, and Chicago is proof of it.

        • Posted by Orland

          Though I had not noticed such a practice as widespread before, you certainly seem more knowledgeable on the subject and I’ll take your word for it. Maybe it’s only because this project is still under construction that it’s so butt ugly apparent.

          On another subject, what’s with the continuing gentrification of the Rush Street entertainment district? Seems the great old gin mills and piano bars are being demolished and replaced by very high end retail.

          Disgusting!

        • Posted by Orland

          Now that you mentioned it, the TRUMP (could the letters be any larger?) Tower on the river is a prime example with what looks like about the first ten floors as parking screened by metal flashing on the exterior.

    • Posted by Frisco

      Houston wouldn’t even bother to put ground floor retail in the podium.

      • Posted by woolie

        Houston would ensure a few surface spots were still reserved out front, in addition to a huge parking structure (namelink)

  3. Posted by Ned Grossberg

    This site is 2 blocks from BART. It doesn’t need any parking, let alone 200+ spaces.

    • Posted by Emanon

      Because BART is the answer to all the Bay Area transit needs? What a ridiculous provincial statement. I hope you’re only trolling. Get out a map of the Bay Area sometime and look at all the job and economic centers not served by BART.

      • Posted by Futurist

        Exactly. The anti-car brigade simply keeps harping endlessly without the understanding that SOME people need to use their cars.

        • Posted by Alai

          SOME people need to use their cars, so ALL buildings need parking.

          SOME people can’t drive, so ALL new construction has to be transit-accessible. Which is why suburban development is now illegal. Er, wait…

      • Posted by seriously

        Wouldn’t that be the OPPOSITE of a provincial statement? Seeing how he’s more concerned with the urban development of what should be a pedestrian city? Just because you disagree doesn’t mean you get to throw around “provincial”. Cars are associated with being provincial because that’s what people in small towns use. Literally the definition of “provincial”. Provincial people don’t have trains like BART. You have a point about BART not being the be all and end all, but get your adjectives straight.

        • Posted by Frank C.

          It’s not provincial, it’s elitist. Very few people can afford to restrict themselves to transit friendly jobs. My wife and I are in tech, and even we can’t. And believe me, I am very very pro transit. It’s just that transit is fractionally good as it needs to be.

          • Posted by woolie

            Then you can pay an additional fee to lease a parking spot, if your building doesn’t provide one? I don’t understand the problem here.

          • Posted by zig

            I think there is an easy solution to that which is not buying in a building right next to BART with restricted parking if you need to use cars a lot.

            I decided to have two kids and rather than bellyaching that I could not find a 3 bedroom with two parking spots and outdoor space in Nob Hill I bought a little house on the Peninsula. I think everyone is better off with having choices

          • Posted by MAB

            Encouraging transit use is elitist? That’s the angle you’re going for? What bizarro land do you live in?

          • Posted by Frank C.

            As if I didn’t say above that I am very very protransit. I would pay 1000 dollars extra in taxes a year to build out 100 more miles of rail transit in this region to have a real system.

            Would any of you? Don’t cast ridiculous aspersions. I’m just commenting on the unrealistic expectations of some here that developments should have zero parking. Attitudes like this are part of the problem.

          • Posted by anon

            Not every development needs to cater to everyone, that’s all that folks are saying here. We’ve made a tremendous investment in BART, and that investment would be more properly leveraged by putting transit-friendly housing right on top of it. Build tons of parking in buildings that don’t have transit right there, and let people who need each choose where they’d like to live.

            I don’t like this idea that we need to restrict choice just because you have to use a car.

      • Posted by EBGuy

        I’ll bite… once Milpitas BART opens in 2017, you’ve got a lot of Silicon Valley covered. What large job center are you thinking of? Admittedly, the VCs on Sand Hill Road will still use their cars.

    • Posted by Matt in Uptown

      Oakland is finally having a real debate about this. Planners are cool with less parking -it’s NIMBY’s. Many still have archaic concepts of urban transportation.

      • Posted by curmudgeon

        I agree. And Oakland city staff is still amazingly split. Some of the redevelopment types who still hold sway (despite the demise of redevelopment) LOVE parking and express great concern over what will happen when all these downtown surface lots get developed. Ummmmmmm….we’ll have a real city!

        • Posted by GoBlueInOakland

          When will we be finally freed from bone-headed ORA staff?!?!?!

    • Posted by Pablito

      lol. The are many more places in the Bay Area Not accessible by BART than there areas accessible by BART. Maybe the people who live in Oakland do not see the City as the center of the universe. :0

    • Posted by Orange

      I agree with you but the city of Oakland zoning rules require the 1 parking space per unit. It is not the developers. There is an article in the East Bay Express that explains the process in detail. It is called “A green solution to Oakland’s Housing Crisis.

  4. Posted by Matt in Uptown

    Emanon, people walk, bike, car share, cab, bus and BART in the urban parts of the Bay Area, We choose this life… if you want a car based life there are still a lot of options for you.

    • Posted by Emanon

      I’ve lived in Oakland for 25 years Matt. My daily commute includes a combination of drive alone, casual carpool, walking, and AC Transit so I agree there are options. But I stand by my comment that for the majority or working adults in the Bay Area (including Oakland, including myself), the option to go car less is impractical without major lifestyle sacrifices.

      • Posted by zig

        So what? The VAST majority of housing options in the Bay Area and the country accommodate this lifestyle. I fail to see the problem with offering a little choice to others

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          The choice is you don’t have to use the parking space. It’s far more market-flexible for the developer to offer parking and you, the user, decide not to use it – than for the developer not to offer it at all, and limit their pool of potential buyers.

          • Posted by zig

            “offer” parking or be forced by regulations to provide it? Let’s be clear here what you position is. Do you support no parking regulations? Using term “market-flexible” sounds like BS

            Units without parking would cheaper and less parking developed would mean for a given footprint would provide more housing

            What is the right amount for this location?

          • Posted by anon

            Forcing the developer to build parking is not more flexible than allowing the market to decide whether it should offer it or not. Or should we also force every citizen to to buy a car, because hey, they can always not use it?

      • Posted by Frank C.

        You are correct again. I would love to go car free. I can’t afford to. Seriously, I’m not kidding. I wish I could.

      • Posted by Alai

        For most working adults in the Bay Area, living here AT ALL involves major lifestyle sacrifices, because it’s so expensive. So let’s make it a little easier for them and build some more housing instead of parking garages.

    • Posted by Moto mayhem

      agree but most people, even in SF still drive

      • Posted by Brian M

        Then buying housing in a building where the developer CHOSE (chose, not forced by zoning parking minimums) not to provide parking may not be the best solution. I hear whispered in the wind that in Mountain House every new house has at least two, if not three spaces. And the “Towne Centres” all have vast parking lots!

  5. Posted by Frank C.

    I wish Emanon were not correct, but he is. Our transit system is woefully insufficient, and jobs are spread out. It is very hard to restrict yourself to jobs served only by transit.

    • Posted by anon

      Then I’d suggest not buying a place with no parking. I work at home and have no need for parking. People have vastly different needs, and we should let the market determine how much parking each development actually needs.

  6. Posted by Dave

    I wonder what this says about the market. Some think were are at a peak of the current cycle in terms of home prices and apartment rents.

    As I recall its been months since a major new condo/apartment hi-rise was announced for SF and yet Oakland has had 3 or 4 big announcements in that same time.

    Maybe the Oakland developers are catching the end of the cycle or the prices have reached a point in SF where significant amount of the demand for new housing is shifting to Oakland. Because of its much cheaper cost.

    • Posted by woolie

      These projects have all been in the works for significant amounts of time. Oakland construction costs are the same as San Francisco, and land is only marginally cheaper. Oakland is trying to provide a higher degree of certainty, which has resulted in the recent spate of announcements in downtown, Lake Merritt, West Oakland, and Broadway/Valdez. Additionally, Oakland has telegraphed that new impact fees are coming next year, and has made not-so-subtle statements that developers should get in the pipeline ASAP if they want to avoid the fees.

  7. Posted by Amewsed

    Good. I like to see the wealth spread around. It also serves to take down the haughtiness of SF officials several notches. Oakland can show how it can be done without the bureaucracy, corruption, and random application of short-sighted views of SF. The added benefit is jobs will move to the East Bay resulting in less congestion and dependency on the Bay Bridge and BART.

  8. Posted by curmudgeon

    I could be wrong, but I’m not sure that any of the announced big projects in Oakland have financing. It’ a little bit difficult to compare to SF, because it’s relatively easier to get entitlements in Oakland, and that’s what these projects are getting. That said,there is real money being put into design, so hopefully we will see groundbreakings.

    [Editor’s Note: This project is reportedly fully-funded.]

  9. Posted by Justin

    Sorry but the parking is necessary when you live on this side of the bridge.

    • Posted by zig

      Especially with Uber being so ubiquitous these days I am sure you are wrong

      • Posted by Justin

        As someone that actually lives in the area I can tell you for sure that you are wrong. Thanks.

        • Posted by zig

          Oh look Justin moved to Oakland 3 years ago and is a Bay expert. Your lifestyle doesn’t inform speak to how everyone’s needs

          • Posted by Some guy

            Hey. Both of yuh’s. Take this whiney tit for tatting to where it belongs: Reddit.

          • Posted by Justin

            Neither does yours.

        • Posted by anon

          Well I guess that settles it then. Justin can’t live without a car in the East Bay, so clearly no one can. Not even the hundreds of thousands that do. They’re just imaginary and stuff.

        • Posted by Chris

          Justin, I lived in Oakland uptown which is 4 blocks away from a BART station and I am car-free. This building doesn’t need one car parking per unit. I wish there’s 206 bike parking spaces instead. It’s a shame.

  10. Posted by Sutro_Tower

    I wonder if all these proposed towers will be condo-mapped for potential conversion down the line. I’m assuming this will be rental development based on the developer’s previous project at 1285 Sutter in the city. Based on how land appreciates in the Uptown / Downtown area of Oakland there will also come a time when it makes financial sense to underground the parking and max out the unit count.

    [Editor’s Note: No need to assume, as we reported above, “a 250-foot tower with 206 apartments.”]

  11. Posted by Dave

    I wonder how long-term the relative larger amount of land available in Oakland versus SF for hi-rise residential construction will factor in.

    Only simply has not had much of this until now while SF has used up a good portion of its available residential tower land. Isn’t it pretty much restricted to SOMA? And that is being rapidly built out.

    Lee wants towers near Caltrans but that will be a fight to get approved. Other than SOMA, the Van Ness corner seems the only place where 25 plus story residential towers will be built. This assumes no up-zoning of any more areas which I think is a safe assumption.

  12. Posted by anon

    Where is all of this land that is approved for highrise construction in Oakland? I only know of a few spots downtown. There are several other larger plans that could have highrises, but those plans are not final – and certainly not approved already.

    • Posted by curmudgeon

      I think the reference is that there is a huge supply of land with permissive high rise zoning in downtown Oakland that could be built upon if the economics work. Locations for high rise development in SF are pretty limited, and while not completely built out, SOMA, Rincon Hill and Market Street have seen a lot of action.

      • Posted by Dave

        Yes, my point is that hi-rise construction is tapping out in SF because SOMA is pretty much accounted for. There are some blocks available I’m sure and a bit of infill in the old financial district but that is it.

        Once you get beyond 3rd street going west the zoning is for mostly lower rise buildings. The Van Ness corner is the one exception.

        My point is, assuming more restrictive or less permissive zoning going forward isn’t SOMA the last frontier for hi-rises in SF? Excluding TI. HP is going to be a big battle if Lennar tries to build anything tall IMO.

        Supply a demand. Oakland has a large amount of land available for hi-rise development with a bit of permissive zoning and, as I said, given the current zoning, SF is tapped out or getting to that point.

        Wish there was a map that showed just how many sites are available still for 30 story towers in SF. I’m sure there is one at planning but it’d be nice to get hold of.

        • Posted by anon

          There are still hundreds of sites available in SF, it just depends on your definition. Sites that have easily torn down structures are certainly much less, maybe ~100 or so.

    • Posted by Dave

      Not approved. Available for hi-rise construction. As SF taps out Oakland has plenty of room downtown for a large number of new hi-rise towers. I would think Oakland will accommodate an expansion of theirhi-rise zone at some point. I don’t see that happening in SF. SOMA was the expansion.

      • Posted by anon

        What does “available” mean? If you’re not talking about stuff approved or even zoned for highrises, can’t you also say that 95% of SF is “available” for highrises?

      • Posted by Moto mayhem

        SF is nowhere near tapped out. 95% of SF is still low rise, and there are tons of 1 floor warhouses left in SOMA

  13. Posted by JIPB

    The BART tube under the Bay is going to run out of capacity in the next few years, even if BART does rebuild the Embarcadero station to increase capacity. And the estimates for a second Bay tube is literally decades to plan, finance and build. It is already ass to elbow on every train at rush hour. Who in their right mind thinks people can rely on the Bay Area’s mass transit? This is not NYC, Paris, Tokyo or London.

    • Posted by TribTowerViews

      Great point! After all, 880, the Bay Bridge and the San Mateo Bridge are all free from personal auto traffic currently. This structure shouldn’t be built in the first place. But if it is, it must accommodate a transportation mode that is guaranteed to become faster and more efficient over time, like driving alone.

    • Posted by Dave

      Exactly. The shift of new housing to Oakland and ultimately jobs relocating or expanding there instead of SF is a win/win for the region. Because, as you say, the Bay Bridge and BART are at capacity and nothing will come along for decades to alleviate.

      The fact SF is building out its hi-rise zone is good as that, along with Prop M kicking in, will curtail future office development here but push it to Oakland and other parts of the East Bay. Housing too.

      SF has a population of 800K and can’t fit many more in. It already has the second highest density after NYC but without the transportation network, anything close, of NYC.

      Despite the disdain for cars check out neighborhoods in the evenings. Parked wall to wall. Sometimes on the cemented over lawn. Most have 2 cars and many 3 and most, in my neighborhood, do not use their garage for one of those cars. Folks in my neighborhood park within feet of fire hydrants, at curved corners – you name it. No meter patrol up hee as no one seems to get ticketed for what at times is a dangerous situation.

      More population or jobs in SF can’t, IMO, be sustained with significantly degrading the quality of lif here.oft

      • Posted by Jake

        There hasn’t been any “shift of new housing to Oakland” from SF. Oakland’s population has grown nearly in parallel or slightly more slowly than SF in the past 5 years, and the past 15 years, and the past 25 years, etc all the way back to the 1940s. Oakland has had 49% +- 1.4% of SF’s population in every decennial census from 1940 on.

        The population shift has been mostly to the south and west of Oakland. Fremont, Livermore, Concord, Antioch, etc have doubled in the time it took Oakland to grow by 10%. Even nearby Emeryville, Richmond, and San Leandro have done more infill growth than Oakland. Oakland has been losing out to other east bay cities for three generations. No reason to expect that trend to reverse.

        What has moved from SF to Oakland are shipping/port, pdr, and some industrial. That opened up a huge amount of land that SF is maybe half way through converting to more valuable residential and office. SF has expanded the “hi-rise zone” many times. Funny what the politicians will do for the right reason$$$.

        • Posted by Dave

          Other than the SOMA expansion of recent years when has there been an expansion of the hi-rise zone?

          The City is attempting to do that at Van Ness Market but it is limited to a few blocks.

          When a 30 story condo was proposed near Caltrans recently the PC let it be known there were not happy with the height.

          Practically speaking exactly where could the hi-rise zone be expanded to w/o huge opposition and an ensuing ballot initiative.

          Its true about port lands but those development are all low rise – 4, 5 or 6 stories.

          • Posted by Moto mayhem

            there is still so much space in SOMA to literrally triple the number of high rises. on top of that, I anticipate the Western Soma plan to be thrown in the trash ina few years for the pice of garbage it is, and hopefully a series of 20-30 floor building will go there

          • Posted by Jake

            Dave, you will get a shorter answer if you ask: when has SF stopped the expansion of high-rises?

            San Franciscans have been fighting about this for ~100 years. It was a motivator for creating the planning commission back then and SF’s first zoning ordinance (1921) only regulated the use of buildings, not building height or bulk, because of opposition from downtown developers. A SPUR article (namelink) about more recent times focuses on the Prop M battle.

            Usually, the developers take a bite when the economics demand more growth and they herd/hire the politicians as needed. Before Ed Lee there was Willie Brown and before him Dianne Feinstein and before her Alioto and …. SF is in the process of increasing building heights in central SoMa especially along 4th. There hasn’t been much effective opposition. Wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen to western SoMa along Howard, 8th, etc. once the current boom is digested and another building cycle kicks in.

            Besides, we don’t have to build high-rises to increase density. The land south of Market all the way to Potrero Hill and the waterfront to Candlestick have plenty of pdr/industrial that if converted to 6-8 story buildings could achieve densities more like north of Market. Look at the beast being built at Harrison and 8th: 138 units/acre in a city with an average of about 13 units/acre.

            The bigger constraint for SF is getting workers from the suburbs to the jobs downtown. SF imports ~300,000 workers/day. All of the major entries except for the GG Bridge are around capacity without much more to squeeze. The rush hour has been getting longer to compensate. For example, a typical workday AM has 3-4 hours of cars queued in Oakland to get on the Bay Bridge to go to SF. If/when BART builds another transbay tube, I expect there will a major rezoning including height increases around the SF stations.

      • Posted by Orland

        Just wait till the mass migration East Bay to SF/San Mateo once the Hayward/Rogers Creek slips within the next decade.

        • Posted by Brian M

          As if SF would not also be impacted by a major quake.

          Not to forget the San Andreas is also still a very dangerous fault.

          • Posted by Orland

            The impact to SF will pale in comparison and the “West Bay” will be regarded as a refuge from the disaster that will be Alameda/Contra Costa/Solano.

            The San Andreas is the far lesser present danger.

        • Posted by Frank C.

          Orland, my wife is a geologist. Your predictions are too sure. In reality this comparison is not possible to make with any confidence. Either could be much worse than the other.

          • Posted by anon

            One of my best friends works at the USGS in Menlo Park. He was laughing at the whole “Seattle is the next big one” scare of two months ago. They just don’t know. Also, Orland says lots of kooky things.

          • Posted by parklife

            Actually the San Andreas is the more dangerous (with respect to the likelihood of a greater earthquake) fault but current thinking is that the Hayward fault is more liable to experience an earthquake in the near term. And an earthquake on either fault is not going to be good for SF or the East Bay, particularly in areas susceptible to liquefaction.

      • Posted by Moto mayhem

        there is plenty of room for growth in SF, and nothing is being currently shifted to Oakland. If anything the SOuth Bay is more likely to take jobs from SF

      • Posted by Orland

        @Jake Interesting that you should mention “the beast” at 8th/Harrison.

        Travel earlier this summer took me to two cities adding significant housing density by markedly different approaches.

        The ongoing construction in Miami was simply astounding. The cranes SOMA pale in comparison. All at work on highrise complexes filling Brickell to the brim which remains a delight to experience day or night.

        Wash DC OTOH is busy building multiple “beasts” (only 50% to twice more floors than that at 8th/Harrison) which are packed together around the periphery of City Center resembling so many tenement blocks of the late 19th Century. I get that they want to maintain open views of the Capitol Building and monuments. However, it does not make for very good city building.

        Miami is the much more attractive and appealing.

        • Posted by anon

          lol no, Miami’s typical building pattern is awful. every complex is walled off from one another, there is NO pedestrian experience at all, etc. It feels like resort complexes in the third world.

          • Posted by Orland

            Maybe in Key Biscane but i don’t think you’ve walked the streets of Brickell lately.

          • Posted by anon

            Definitely not confusing the two. Brickell feels almost exactly like Paulista Ave in Sao Paulo.

          • Posted by Orland

            Agree Brickell Ave itself is barren (in spite all the beautiful landscaping), but west into the residential area not at all so.

    • Posted by Moto mayhem

      we need so much in the form of tranit in the BAY are and none of our politicians have had the sack to push forward the effort. We need another cross bay bridge(hunters point to alameda for instance), we need another BART tube, we need to expand the lanes on 101, we need a Geary and Van Ness Subway. All of this should be going on NOW to ease congestion

  14. Posted by Paul

    IMHO, the bay areas two largest problems are lack of housing and lack of decent public transportation. I agree with Moto, we need more subways going in all directions, more rapid bus lines, more high density housing done in a Vancouver way, thoughtful streetlife, townhouses and retail at the base of podium towers, trees, trees, and more trees. There is no reason why a new transbay tube or other much needed subway lines has to be 30 years + into the future as our current political class states. These could be up and running in 10 years or less if there were any political will to do so. Instead, everyone sits in their cars, bitching about the horrible traffic, which will not get any better on its own. And yes, why are all these towers being built without balconies in such a mild climate?

    • Posted by Dave

      Amen to more trees. I suggested they plant redwoods in the large median strip on Sunset, bordering Parkmerced on Lake Merced Blvd. and bordering the homes on Lake Merced Boulevard with the large barren median strip in front of them. The type of redwoods they plant in San Jose and on the Peninsula.

      While they are at it redwoods planted on the large Sloat Boulevard median.

  15. Posted by Dave

    @Jake Interesting points. But they skirt the problem – density.

    If indeed SOMA turns out to be the last hi-rise zone in SF you said they could still build dense inwest SOMA a la the behemoth. Build 7 stories, sidewalk to sidewalk there. Sure high density w/o hi-rises but the infrastructure is not there to support.

    Any significant increase in SF density is problematic at this point. 800K is about as much as the current support structures can accommodate.

    • Posted by anon

      But Oakland can support infinitely more? lol, ok.

    • Posted by Jake

      Dave, what are you talking about? Specifically, what “infrastructure is not there to support”?

      There’s adequate power, water (not EBMUD sour water), and sewer, and unlike Oakland there is a dense fiber optic network already in place under just about every main street in SoMa. And we are building bike lanes. FTR, SF has more than 850k residents plus ~130k tourists/day and ~300k work commuters.

      Currently, about 40% of the people that live in SoMa either walk to work or work from home. And those percentages should increase as the density goes up and the technology/connectivity improves.

      As I mentioned above, the main constraint on growth in SF is on commercial office growth due to the need to transport the increasing numbers of east bay residents that work in the SF CBD. And the solutions for that are well known. BART is doing a study of alternative routes for a second tube and eventually the pain of east bay commuters plus the demand/greed of downtown businesses/developers will find the money. Until then, it inflates the value of close-in residential property in SF, which ensures the very density you think won’t happen.

      • Posted by Dave

        Jake, I am referring to the transportation infrastructure within and into SF. As you acknowledge, this is the constraint on commercial growth. At present, with no significant improvement, SF can’t absorb more jobs even if companies want to come here.

        The next Mayor needs to be realistic about this. Call for a decade moratorium on new office construction in SF (anything over 50K sq. feet) during which time real progress has to be made to fix the transportation situation. Simple as that. Do SF leaders have the guts to be honest about the commercial capacity limit we’ve hit? Not Mayor Lee I’m afraid but hopefully his challenger.

        • Posted by anon

          And the thought is that this will lead to more office building in Oakland? Why wouldn’t it just lead to higher prices in SF for the companies that want to be here, and an exodus from the Bay Area for other companies?

        • Posted by Moto mayhem

          A moratorium on jobs? Yeah that’s a great idea! Lol! SF can support much more than is here now.

        • Posted by Brian M

          If there is a moratorium on new jobs, who exactly is going to pay for all this infrastructure?

      • Posted by Dave

        Also Jake. Residential construction. How many more people can this tiny city (area-wise) accommodate? Given its poor transportation system? Its already the second most dense city in the US. There is an upper limit. Is that 825 K, 850K, 875K?

        And should housing be built for the wealthy. Many who live here just part time.

        Along with a 10 year moratorium on commercial construction I’d radically alter residential construction rules. Allowing only projects that are 50% BMR to go forward. Offering expedited processes for developers willing to do that.

        Oh, but the constrains will increase housing prices. Well, all the recent “luxury” construction has not reduced prices so that argument is a red herring IMO.

  16. Posted by Jake

    SF can and will continue to add jobs and people, economy permitting. We aren’t even close to what we can handle.

    SF is forecast to have a population around one million by 2040, give or take five years. Planning for infrastructure projects often use that target. SF is also forecast to add ~200k jobs by then, which is around what all of Oakland has today. Maybe 60k of those workers will live in the east bay. The existing Bay Bridge and BART move ~40k workers/hr into SF from the east bay. By squeezing an extra 10% throughput, the commute crush just has to last another hour both AM and PM to get this extra in/out. That will suck for the 2025-2030 era east bay commuters that either have to start an hour earlier or spend maybe an extra 15 minutes commuting each way compared to today, but it doesn’t take any special genius to figure out eventually they will vote to tax themselves enough to build another BART tube to reduce commute times, which will make SF CBD office space even more valuable.

    In the nearer term, it doesn’t take much infrastructure to walk to work. MUNI can make mundane upgrades to transport far more workers from the new housing being built along the eastern waterfront as far away as Bayview to the CBD, which is growing in that direction anyway. The T line is underutilized and with the Central Subway and the new trains there will be more and faster capacity into the heart of the CBD.

    By building most of the new housing either within walking distance of the new office space or within short haul over existing transit runs, SF can grow for many years. Quite a few $ billion are being bet on it.

    Half the cars that clog the streets of SoMa during the commute are the folks that live in suburbs and drive into SF CBD to work. They are the most likely losers when the transportation bottlenecks get too bad because SF is removing their lanes to prioritize MUNI and SF pedestrians and cyclists.

    That’s why a dumpy house in a mediocre SF neighborhood near a slow MUNI line is worth more than a bigger, nicer house, with better weather and view on a hill in Oakland. And a cramped condo in walking/biking distance of Twitter/Salesforce/etc is worth more than a bigger one on Lake Merit.

    • Posted by Dave

      The congestion might keep companies from expanding here. Lennar is having trouble landing hi-tech companies forits 3 million Prop M entitled saspace. To the pointwhere a big chunk of that space may go to a private K through high school academy. And they are turning to SF State to take some space too. That has to be a disappointment.

      All I’m saying is the unaddressed transportation issues are not just an issue for commuters but for companies who might otherwise lease some office space in the city.

    • Posted by Dave

      Also Jake, expanding the hi-rise zone to Howard and down to 8th may be a dream of some PTB in the city but any such expansion probably will be initiative. The fallback position of building low rise behemoths could also be initiaitived via a maximum density restriction.

      Without the expansion you suggested the Chronicle building revamp/project is DOA as well as the Flower Mart project.

      Really enjoy your comments. Thanks Jake.

      The anti-growth development movement seems to be surfacing again I SF. The results of the vote on the Giants projet and on the Warriors stadium will be quite revealing as to whether SF will continue to expand as an office/population enter or not.

      • Posted by Jake

        Hunters Point isn’t in the SF CBD where the transit hubs deliver a huge population of potential workers. Most office employees are going to drive to get there. Once a company decides to gather their employees by car, they are going to look at many alternatives along 101 etc. Whatever else is good or bad about HP, the location works more like Oyster Point than SoMa for an office building. HP is too far from the congestion for a large office and in SF the congestion is near or where the action is, while in Oakland and most of the east bay the congestion is where the queue backs up to get to where the action is.

        I don’t know when SF will need to increase building heights in western SoMa, but I doubt the politics will stop it if there is enough $$$ for it. SF has a lot of space leased to companies that are not profitable and live on investor money. Not as extreme as in the late 1990s, but…

        I’ll be very surprised if the Warriors don’t win, and the Giants don’t have much opposition so far, even though that project is adjacent to one of the worst gridlock intersections in SF.

        • Posted by Orland

          I don’t foresee there even being a vote on the Warriors arena.

          • Posted by Pablito

            But there probably should be a vote. I think most projects that go up for a vote in San Francisco should probably not be on the ballot. But a major regional arena that will completely reconfigure that area for decades to come? Yes – there probably should be a vote.

            It’s telling that the mayor wants to do bend every rule possible with the BOS to keep it off the ballot.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            its seems like a complete no brainer to approve this without a vote.

          • Posted by anon

            Why in the world do we elect politicians if we need to have a public vote for something as minor as an arena?

  17. Posted by Again&Again

    Show me a modern tower development without parking where units are priced noticeably less. I find the true escalation in cost of housing WITH parking occurs during resales years later. Units with parking on average command prices of up to 20% more than units without parking in the same building (with similar view outlook and floor plan). The cost of adding a parking podium does not add 20% to the cost of the building, it is the desire of buyers years later who tell agents they will “only look at units with parking”.

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